Google taps Airbnb exec to turn self-driving cars into a business

Shaun Stewart's expertise with rentals could help you hail robotic cars.

Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images

Google's self-driving car project hit a rough patch with the departure of one of its earliest team members, but it's evident that the tech giant is still bent on turning the experiment into a viable business. The company has hired Airbnb executive Shaun Stewart, who led his former employer's vacation rental team, as a director for its autonomous vehicle group. He'll focus on commercializing the division -- just what that entails isn't clear, but previous rumors (and industry expectations) suggest that he may translate Google's self-driving technology into a robotic ride-for-hire service.

Stewart may be a particularly good fit. As our TechCrunch colleagues observe, his expertise revolves around short-term travel rentals. Before Airbnb, he was the CEO of the luxury vacation deal site Jetsetter -- he knows a thing or two about getting these services off the ground. And that's important when the concept of a driverless taxi is still brand new, with plenty of nuts-and-bolts details that need to be pinned down in the years ahead.